Even-money favourite Betting Line tied the stakes, track and Canadian record of 1:47.4 with his late-closing victory in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont.
U.S. Hall of Fame driver David Miller earned his first victory in the Cup guiding Betting Line to the one-length triumph over Racing Hill and Control The Moment. The three-year-old son of 2001 Cup champion Bettors Delight out of the Western Hanover mare Heathers Western colt is campaigned by the locally-based horsewoman Casie Coleman, who is now the first female trainer to win the race twice.
Racing Hill (Brett Miller) left from post six in Saturday’s featured event with Control The Moment (Randy Waples) crossing over from post nine and clearing to command into the first turn.
Control The Moment reached the first quarter in :26.4 and was quickly confronted by Lyons Snyder (Sylvain Filion) in the second panel. Lyons Snyder swept up out of an early three-hole and went head-to-head with Control The Moment as they raced by the half in :53.4.
Their battle continued down the backstretch, with Control The Moment refusing to give in. Lyons Snyder eventually relented and dropped into the pocket while Racing Hill launched his attack nearing three-quarters in 1:20.3.
Meanwhile, Betting Line had followed mid-pack in fifth-place throughout. David Miller made his move with the popular elimination winner as Racing Hill chased Control The Moment into the stretch. Racing Hill edged by Control The Moment in front of the crowd, but Betting Line powered by on the outside to steal the glory with :25.4 closing speed.
The 1:47.4 victory equalled the track and Canadian record for three-year-old male pacers that was set in the 2012 North America Cup eliminations by Sweet Lou and matched by Thinking Out Loud in that year’s final.
While David Miller boasts many impressive credentials, the North America Cup had eluded him in 15 prior attempts.
“The first time I drove a horse in this race was Falcons Future and that was in ’94, so yes, this is very sweet,” said Miller, whose previous best showings in the Cup were a pair of runner-up finishes aboard Sutter Hanover in 2007 and Twilight Bonfire in 2013.
Miller, who had picked up the catch-drive on Betting Line for last weekend’s eliminations, said that it was at about the mid-point of the race that he felt like his mount was going to get home first.
“The way he finished last week, I thought if I was somewhere close…I didn’t really like being that far back and them getting away from us, but when I did ask him through the stretch he took right off.
“Right now, he ranks right up there. He’s been very impressive both weeks. I like his never-give-in attitude.”
Betting Line was a top ranked colt coming into the season having won half of his 12 starts as a two-year-old while earning $540,422 and an O’Brien Award nomination in his division. He was assessed as the 8-1 third pick in Trot Magazine‘s Spring Book rankings.
He started his sophomore campaign with top-two finishes in a pair of condition races at Mohawk before winning his Somebeachsomewhere Stakes division. From there, Coleman opted to make a shoeing change from aluminum to steel and he won the fastest of the two eliminations in 1:49.1.
For Coleman, a second North America Cup trophy was the perfect birthday gift.
“This is all I wanted for my birthday and Betting Line made it come true,” said Coleman, whose birthday was on June 13.
“I always said I want to see him get a trip from off-the-pace where he had cover and that worked. Dave drove him perfect. They were going all kinds of quick fractions. I was a little worried that he was a bit too far back, but then I saw the clock pop up in 1:20 and a piece so I was kind of happy.”
The Cambridge, Ont. conditioner had also hoisted the Cup in 2010 when Sportswriter won the prestigious event. Coleman shares ownership of Betting Line with the same connections that celebrated their first win together — Ross Warriner of Burlington, Ont. and Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont. — as well as another longtime partner, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont.
“It’s a great team. Casie did a super job. Dave did a super job driving him. It couldn’t be better,” said Nichol. “It feels great. The second one always feels better,” he laughed.
Betting Line paid $4.20 to win.
After a week’s rest, the champion will return to Mohawk for the next Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event.
Bred by New Jersey’s Fair Winds Farm Inc. and purchased by his connections for $60,000 at the Harrisburg Sale, Betting Line has earned $1,119,922 so far in his career.
The complete order of finish for the 2016 North America Cup follows: Betting Line, Racing Hill, Control The Moment, Boston Red Rocks (Tim Tetrick), Michaels Victory (Scott Zeron), Lyons Snyder, Big Top Hanover (Yannick Gingras), Magnum J (Doug McNair), Beast Mode (Trevor Henry), and Manhattan Beach (Corey Callahan).